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Comparison of Christopher Columbus and John Smiths writings

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Columbus writes that he gave the natives gifts in order “that they might conceive affection for us and, more than that, might become Christians and be inclined to the love and services of Your Highnesses” (2). Spain was, of course, a Catholic nation at this time. In his letter, Columbus shows that he is doing this for God and for his country. So we can see his nationalistic pride as well as devotion to his country’s religious beliefs. America itself was founded on religious (predominantly Christian) beliefs, so one can see how the religion of the first Europeans influenced American values and religion.

Converting “savages” to Christianity is a dominant goal for Smith as well. He writes, “The gaining Provinces addeth to the King’s Crown: but the reducing Heathen people to civility and true Religion bringeth honour to the King of Heaven” (4). Again we see the great extent to which religion is connected to the home country and how when both men speak about their countries their religious sentiments usually follow immediately. Both Spain and England were basically inseparable with the Christian religion at this time.

In Columbus letter, we can see how his mission is undertaken in service to God and the King of Spain. His voyage would not have been possible without the financial support of the King and Queen; therefore he is indebted to them to do as they wish. Yet we can also see a passion for his individualism and the pride that comes with accomplishing something on his own in the letter. It is entirely possible that Columbus undertook his voyage not only for his country and his religion, but to achieve fame as well.

He may have relished the task because of the fame and riches it would bring him. The concept of going out on your own and forging your own path is also an individualist proposition. Basically, the voyage benefited both Columbus personally as well as Spain, and this is why the voyage was commissioned. The individualism that Columbus possessed is also a big part of American culture. We can also see that Smith’s writings show him to be individualistic as well.

Although he is a servant to both the King and the business which is financing him, he occasionally disagrees with these entities and doesn’t follow their orders explicitly. His account of one such instance is as follows: “The Salvages being acquainted, that by command from England we durst not hurt them, were much imboldned; that famine and their insolencies did force me to breake our Commission and instructions” (90).

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